I’m on my way to my friend’s house. In my lap, beneath the steering wheel of my car, rests a square cardboard box and a strand of red and cream twine. It’s a twenty minute drive near green-rained-on hills and white and brown cows in pasture, and then the winding roads near the university and the coffeeshops and store-fronts until I make the left turn. At each of the five red stop lights, I grasp a box and quickly wrap around the twine and tie a bow at the top. We are exchanging small gifts, these girlfriends of mine, and I had fully intended to wrap the gifts this morning, not do quick-wrapping-up job on the way to the party.
When the light turns green, and I’ve secured the loop twine around another box, I toss the box in the backseat. I feel some relief–getting this task done when I had abandoned wrapping, with any kind of adornment, as a possibility. These boxes are not the prettiest things you’ve ever seen, but they aren’t awful either. Simply, I pray my friends, who love me despite my scatteredness, feel loved by me.
I wish I had the means to send a funny-wrapped box to each of you. In it I might include the most awesome smelling candle in the whole wide world. But what I would want to share most are actually words–the words from my heart, the love language my Father teaches me to speak. This is the gift I want to give you most.
Reminders of God’s love and hope is something we need from each other a lot more than we think we do.
This truth sinks in ever deeper when Justin and I go with this same dear friend to attend a funeral–a mom who just died from brain cancer. My friend and her husband came around a family when they needed God’s love to shine bright in tangible ways. And they invited Justin and me to pray with them, weeks prior, as they loved this family in the way God whispered to them to love. At the funeral–the room filled with caseworkers who supported the family over the last few years and teachers and principals who have known these three kids who just lost their mom–people stand up to testify to love and perseverance, joy and hope. The body of Christ is gathered around this family, loving them in the way God had taught them how.
It was an hour and a half of words that were more than words. It was holy space. It was speaking truth and love. It was telling each other in story, in testimony, the simple things that are also the most powerful and lasting: I am here, I see you, I know you hurt, you are not alone.
This Father of ours, this God who is love, teaches each of us how to love each other. He teaches us how words are action, are weapons of light against the darkness. Truth cannot damper light.
We, the daughters and sons of God, respond to the whisper of God in our hearts. We recognize Jesus in our midst. We are filled with the Holy Spirit. We live out this truth: heaven is not so far away.
Heaven, the Holy Spirit in us, comes here.
I call my mom that evening, telling her about my day, asking her how she is. A close family member, my aunt, is in hospice; my mom has been visiting her every day. She tells me how she prays with her, how she prays the prayer I have been praying too. And I realize the power of our words on each other. In our stories, our words, our prayers, our encouragement, our speaking even the tough, hard things, in love, the Holy Spirit can be present. Together, we are in holy space.
My friends, you, who gather here in this blog space, who let me share my words, my heart, with you, thank for being here. Thank you for being the sisters who join me in hungering for more of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
Father, this day, may we desire you more than anything. May we lean deep into your arms. May we rest there. May we remember you have us, you hold us. May our time in your presence equip us to speak words that are true and good. May we bring light into the space we inhabit. May we bring forth your love with our trusting you, with our loving with our whole heart, with our words echoing the songs of angels, giving you praise by how we love . . . by how we love . . . by how we love.
That’s the present we want, Father. Let us receive your gift, wrapped in the most gorgeous splendor. Yes, let’s unwrap you now and give you to everyone we meet.
*In the wide-open space newsletter (subscribe here to get it when I send it out in a few days) I’ll share a bit more about why things have been so quiet on the blog lately.
Love to you, sisters and friends,
What words have you heard recently that have made God feel close?